First Published: 2013-01-16

 

Somali Shebab decide fate of kidnapped French agent: Execution

 

Shebab justify their decision by saying they want to avenge ‘dozens of Muslim civilians senselessly killed by French forces.’

 

Middle East Online

By Aymeric Vincenot – NAIROBI

Shebab: As far as we are concerned this man should die

Somali Islamists said Wednesday they would execute a French agent they have held since 2009, as France said the hostage was likely killed in a failed rescue attempt.

French commandos on Saturday launched a raid to free the hostage, known by the pseudonym of Denis Allex, but the rescue bid failed and resulted in the death of two French soldiers.

The Al-Qaeda linked Shebab said in a statement they have "reached a unanimous decision to execute the French intelligence officer, Denis Allex."

A senior Shebab official confirmed on Wednesday that Allex "has been sentenced and this judgment will not be changed. As far as we are concerned this man should die."

Neither the statement nor the official explicitly said Allex was still alive.

The Shebab justified their decision by saying they wanted to avenge "the dozens of Muslim civilians senselessly killed by the French forces during the operation."

Witnesses said eight civilians died during the operation at Bulomarer, a town south of Mogadishu still in the control of the Shebab.

The group also cited "France's increasing persecution of Muslims around the world, its oppressive anti-Islam policies at home, French military operations in ... Afghanistan and, most recently, in Mali."

The Shebab have not provided any proof that Allex is still alive.

The French army on Wednesday accused the Shebab of "manipulating the media" and reaffirmed that Allex is likely already dead.

"We suspect, and I believe that we are not wrong to do so, that Somalia's Shebab are manipulating the media," France's Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud said on Europe 1 radio.

"We have no element since the raid indicating Denis Allex is alive. We think he is most likely dead," he said.

In the operation to free Allex, two other French soldiers were killed. The French retrieved one of the bodies. Pictures of the second soldier, presented by the Shebab as the commander of the raid, have been posted on the Islamists' Twitter account.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday that the raid, by the elite DGSE secret service, was sparked by the "intransigence of the terrorists who have refused to negotiate for three and a half years and were holding Denis Allex in inhuman conditions."

The minister said at the weekend that a French soldier was missing, but on Monday he said it now appeared that the soldier had died. He did not indicate that he was a commander. Le Drian said 17 guerrillas were killed in the raid.

Sources in Somalia said one of the reasons the raid failed was that the rebels had received advance warning, which senior Shebab commander Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim confirmed by telephone without giving further details.

Le Drian's explanation was that French troops had underestimated the Islamist rebels' strength when they launched the operation involving some 50 troops and at least five helicopters -- and some help from Washington.

President Barack Obama has acknowledged that US forces provided limited technical support for the operation, but said they had played no role in the fighting.

Denis Allex is the longest held French hostage overseas since French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, who had been held for more than six years by Colombian guerrillas until being rescued by Colombia's security forces in 2008.

 

Serious challenges for Arab leaders in Amman

US-backed fighters battle IS near north Syria town

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies

Egypt’s dwindling Jews struggle to maintain heritage

Germany’s Turks cast early ballots for Erdogan referendum

German court convicts Pakistani of spying for Iran

Qatar to invest £5bn in UK within five years

'Kill Erdogan' banner probed in Switzerland, Turkey

Arab League chief urges resolution to Syria conflict

Israel arrests 22 ultra-Orthodox sex offenders

Syrian forces pause offensive on IS-held dam for repairs

Dubai's Emaar Malls offers $800m to buy Souq.com

Iraq launches fresh Mosul Old City advance

Hamas partially reopens Beit Hanoun crossing

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Iran to appeal seizure of 9/11 compensation money

Hamas shuts Gaza crossing after assassination of official

Deep concern as Israeli laws entrench the occupation

Turkey’s Kurds could sway tight referendum vote

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

US and allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Israel’s air strike on Syria spooks Middle East

Gunmen kill Hamas official in Gaza

Separate Syria air strikes kill at least 32

UN says Israel has ignored resolution on illegal settlements

Veteran politician says Turkey referendum a 'test' for Kurds

More Algerian women in work, but husbands control wages

Beirut university settles US lawsuit over Hezbollah

1.1 million weekend travellers from Dubai hit by laptop ban

Shiite Lebanese women endure painful custody battles

Russia, China seek Iraq chemical weapons probe

Besieged Syrians struggle with dwindling dialysis supplies

Syria army retakes Damascus areas from rebels

Syria says peace talks must first focus on 'terrorism'

12 Syrian refugees dead after boat sinks off Turkey coast

Mosul displaced head into unknown

As war keeps them away, Yemen children dream of school

Ousted Egyptian president Mubarak freed from detention

Iraq's Sadr threatens boycott if election law unchanged

Israel, US fail to reach settlement agreement

Yemen rebel missile kills Saudi soldier

Turkish FM in Switzerland amid rising tensions with Europe